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Andrea MacPherson is the featured guest blogger on Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s Website

Book cover

Andrea MacPherson is the featured guest blogger on Gail Anderson-Dargatz's Website where she talks about the creation of her most recent collection of poetry, Ellipses.

"In the darkroom"

I’ve been thinking about theme a lot lately.  Partly because theme can be one of the most elusive literary devices, and I’m always trying to find a way to articulate what theme does, making it less scary and more accessible for my students.  But the larger reason is that I have become paralyzed by theme. My newest poetry book, Ellipses, came out in spring 2014, and was a collection of poems that spanned a five year period.  I try to take some time away from writing after a new project comes out, but I found myself very quickly engaged with poems I’d recently read, and thinking about what I loved about them, how the collections were built.  Many of my current favourites were themed in interesting ways. Typically, themes announce themselves during the writing process for me—both with fiction and poetry.  It’s only once I’ve been circling the central ideas, immersing myself in the characters’ voices, that themes make themselves known.  They’re the image developing in a darkroom—slowly, surely, they become more clear.  But as I began to consider the topics that were important to me—areas of interest and research that had been speaking to me quietly, consistently, for the last couple years—I realized that what I really wanted to write about in verse centred on a clear, specific theme (reproduction, but that’s all I’ll say about it, as a very superstitious writer who rarely talks about work in progress).  It felt like an aha! moment at the time, and I looked forward to a new project with this kind of guiding force.  It was a plan, a pattern, and outline.  It would be easy!  Just insert poems.

Read the rest of Andrea's guest blog post at

Andrea MacPherson is the author of Away and Ellipses

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